Clove essential oil is regularly recommended to use on babies for teething pain. Unfortunately, Clove essential oil is not recommended for use on children under the age of 2 due to several safety concerns which will be addressed shortly.
So why is Clove essential oil recommended? Is everyone wrong?
Cloves (you know, from the plant) have been used as a pain reliever for centuries. Biting on a clove or using the powder or infused oil can provide relief from tooth pain. Now that essential oils have grown in popularity, it is assumed the essential oils is also safe. Many people don't realize that herbs and essential oils can not be used interchangeably. Essential oils are much more concentrated than their herbal counterparts.
Why you should avoid using Clove essential oil on your baby
According to Essential Oil Safety, some of the safety concerns with Clove essential oil are:
- it is a moderate risk skin sensitizer
- it is a moderate risk mucous membrane irritant
- it may prevent blood from forming clots (read: A List of Essential Oils Which May Inhibit Blood Clotting)
- it can cause embryotoxicity (read: Essential Oils and Pregnancy)
When used topically, it should be avoided on anyone with sensitive skin, as well as children under the age of 2 (read: Essential Oils and Children).
The reason for avoiding on children under the age of two is because children's skin is more sensitive than adult skin. Adding a moderate risk sensitizer and mucous membrane irritant on skin that is already fragile is increasing risk for an adverse reaction.
Adverse reactions can appear as redness, itching, or burning. If use is continued or ignored, sensitization (from topical use) or ulcers (from internal use) can occur. Once sensitized to an essential oil, you are sensitized for life – and can no longer use essential oils containing the same constituents as the essential oil you are sensitized to. Eugenol, which is found in Clove essential oil at a high concentration, is the sensitizing constituent also found in Cinnamon, Basil (pungent), Bay (West Indian), and other essential oils.
The good news is, there are plenty of other things you can use for teething pain. Your child doesn't have to suffer!
Safe ways to help relieve your baby's teething pain
Now that you know the risks involved with using Clove essential oil on your baby's gums, you probably want some ideas for safely providing teething relief to your child. Here you go!
My #1 recommendation for teething is German Chamomile hydrosol (Roman also works). You can use this directly on the gums with no dilution. Read all about hydrosols, including where to find them, here: Hydrosols, Hydrolats, Aromatic Waters – oh my! Everything you wanted to know about Hydrosols.
HerbPharm sells a wonderful organic chamomile extract. To use, place a drop or two on your finger, then rub into the baby's gums.
Chamomile tea popsicles
First, make chamomile tea. You can certainly use the pre-made tea bags, but for a fresher and more therapeutic alternative, nothing beats the dried herb). Steep two ounces of dried chamomile flowers in a quart of water. I like to use a coffee press when I infuse my herbs.* Place the dried herbs inside the carafe, pour boiling water over them, and then push the plunger with the filter down and close the coffee press. Let steep at least 20 minutes. With the plunger still down, pour the tea into popsicle molds and freeze. You can certainly add a splash of juice or include some honey (if over the age of 1) if need be.
*If you don't have a coffee press, you can use a mason jar and a strainer. Place the herbs in the mason jar, pour the water over, and cover. Once ready, pour into another mason jar, filtering with a strainer. Actually, that is two mason jars 😉
Some other ideas that can help with the pain due to the cold factor:
- Frozen washcloth – Soak a facecloth, wring it out, and freeze. Bonus points if you soak it in chamomile tea first!
- Frozen peas
- Frozen banana – Freeze banana slices. Place them into a mesh feeder before giving to your child.
- Frozen breastmilk – Elizabeth M. from the Using EOs Safely facebook group freezes breastmilk in ice cube trays and places a cube in a mesh feeder. Her son loves it!
* Additional Reading: Teething Talk With Katiepotamus
Do you have a question or comment? Leave a comment on this post, post in the FB group, or e-mail me.
Lea Harris is a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist Scholar's Program graduate from Aromahead Institute. This website, and its sister website, LearningAboutEOs, is home to educational advice and information about using essential oils safely. Lea founded and runs the Using Essential Oils Safely facebook group, with hundreds of new members joining each week. Lea is the author of The TRUTH About Essential Oil Safety, and the creator of Safe Essential Oil Labels and the UEOS App. You can find FREE classes here: Free Essential Oil Classes.
Lea received her herbalist certification through The Herbal Academy of New England. Lea is a contributing writer for Natural Herbal Living magazine, and blogs about herbs and natural living on her website, Nourishing Treasures.
Lea is Professional level member of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists.
Businesses, groups, and individuals can hire Lea to consult on safety, product formulation, and more on her website Lea Harris CCA.